NEW YORK—Days after Algerian-born artist Adel Abdessemed’s solo show opened to the public, on Feb. 17 at New York’s David Zwirner gallery in Chelsea, the works were sold out to private buyers in Europe, the US and Asia at prices ranging from $800,000/2 million, reports Justine Durrett, director of sales. This is the second solo show, at the Zwirner gallery, of work by Abdessemed, who resides in Paris and joined the gallery in 2008.
He is known for transforming “everyday materials and images into unexpected and charged artistic declarations,” according to the gallery. One of the most striking examples of this is Décor: four, wall-hung, highly-detailed sculptures, made entirely of razor wire, that depict the crucifixion of Jesus. The figures are modeled after German Renaissance painter Matthias Grünewald’s Crucifixion, a part of his Isenheim Altarpiece from 1506–15.
Décor was bought by French collector and luxury goods magnate François Pinault for about $1.5 million. According to Durrett, following the Zwirner show, Pinault has arranged for the installation to be shown in Colmar, France, where the Grünewald altarpiece painting is kept.
The works will subsequently be part of a major Abdessemed show at the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, which will open in October of this year.
Other works in the exhibition include, Coup de tête, a monumental black resin sculpture, that depicts the infamous moment when French soccer player Zinedine Zidane headbutted Italian player Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup final in Germany. Three of these sculptures, in marble, have been sold, while the fourth, in resin, is on reserve. The sculpture will also be part of the Pompidou show.
Another work included in the show is a video in which a baboon spells out the words “Tutsi” and “Hutu” in magnetic letters on a white wall, a reference to the groups that brutalized each other during the civil war in Rwanda in 1994. Three, of an edition of five videos, were sold for $60,000 each.
The centerpiece of the show, as well as its title, is the giant, rectangular work Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? A haunting and visceral piece, the wall-hung installation features dozens of taxidermied animals, including wolves. Durrett said there has been enormous interest from collectors for the piece. However, the artist has decided to keep the work for himself, though it will be on view as a part of the upcoming Paris show.
At Abdessemed’s first solo show in 2009, Indonesian-Chinese collector Budi-Tek bought Telle mere tel fils, three airplanes braided together, which will also be included in the Pompidou show. Durrett says that interest from the collector has brought considerable attention from other Chinese collectors as well.